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Twenty Moments Sports 2014 – Victory

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photos I feel helped shape my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily   Lillie Dukes Pike, Pam Pike and Carly Marks run to the finish line together during the Bill J. Dukes 7@7 race Saturday morning in Point Mallard Park in Decatur.  The seven kilometer race benefits the Mental Health Center of Morgan County.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily Lillie Dukes Pike, Pam Pike and Carly Marks run to the finish line together during the Bill J. Dukes 7@7 race Saturday morning in Point Mallard Park in Decatur. The seven kilometer race benefits the Mental Health Center of Morgan County.

Running is such a weird sport when you stop to think about it.  There is not ball, no field, no scoreboard, just a clock and that clock is like this demon that taunts you.  Okay, you have gathered I am a runner.  Not a good runner mind you.  Certainly not a fast runner either but I am a runner.  I have done a few half-marathons and I swore I would never do that.  I now swear I will never run a marathon.  I prefer to remain only half crazy but who knows what all those miles will do to my mind.  Perhaps it will drive me fully crazy and I will attempt to run 26.2 miles.  Or not.

This was not a long race.  This photo was taken during the Bill Dukes 7@7 run in Point Mallard Park in Decatur.  I have run this race.  It is a 7 kilometer run in August, in Alabama.  For those of you who have never experienced summer in Alabama allow me to just say, it is hot.  And humid.  This morning was such a nasty hot and humid morning I was very, very glad I was not running.

I set up to shoot the start where the runners are massed.  I moved to another place along the trail in a wooded area just over a quarter mile from the finish.  I shot the leaders there, male and female. We always try to get the top male and top female finisher but you don’t have to do it only at the finish line.  I picked this spot because it was in an area with an “S” curve and I thought it would look pretty cool.  It turned out okay and a short move allowed me a second shot looking from the shade out into sunlight and I was able to play with that a little.

After shooting in the woods I moved on to the finish line.  It was so hot I knew there would be some good exhaustion pictures.  I got a couple of good ones and was about to leave.  I looked down the trail and there were these three ladies running together as they came through the final tenth of a mile to the finish.  There is a little hill and just as they crested the hill they grabbed hands and raised their hands Rocky style as they ran toward me.  I knew I had the picture of the day and I was thrilled.  These ladies were not the top finishers.  They were just finishers.

If there is one thing I have learned as a runner it is that finishing is winning and it doesn’t matter where you finish, just finish.  These ladies were celebrating like champions and, as a runner myself, I could totally appreciate that.  Kudos to the three of them for getting out there, having some fun and “winning.”  The photo was taken with a D4 and an 80-200 f2.8 lens.

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 19th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Twenty Moments News 2014 – A Little Kiss

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photos I feel helped shape my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily    John Sons gives a mock kiss to Samaritan's Purse volunteer team leader Paul Brock after the volunteers helped him at his home on Quinn Road Friday.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily John Sons gives a mock kiss to Samaritan’s Purse volunteer team leader Paul Brock after the volunteers helped him at his home on Quinn Road Friday.

This photo is another from our coverage of the April tornado aftermath.  My assignment was to find volunteers out helping people who had storm damage.  The Samaritan’s Purse organization had a mobile command post and several teams of volunteers out working the damage area and they gave us a lead on one of their teams that was out helping John Sons on Quinn Road.

This is a standard disaster aftermath story and you can count on finding people helping cut up downed trees, patch holes in roofs and help with the clean up of water damage, things like that.  I got those photos.  In fact, I made a couple of decent pictures but that is all they were, decent.  I never like settling for decent.  I noticed Mr. Sons was having a good time with the members of the relief team, especially the team leader, Paul Brock.

Volunteers from American Red Cross showed up and Sons drifted off to talk to them.  Them Brock walked over next to him.  Since I had seen their interaction earlier I just hung out close as they talked to the Red Cross team.  I don’t exactly remember what transpired but the conversation moved toward how Sons really liked the team from Samaritan’s Purse and how he liked Brock.  Then he stretched out offering a playful kiss and I was standing there ready for the moment.  Clearly Sons’ sense of humor was not dimmed by the tornado.

It was such a wonderful moment I knew I had all I really needed but I hung around a little while to make the requisite wood cutting pictures then left.  I love this moment.  The picture is far from perfect but you can’t stage manage where people are standing when good moments happen.  The background behind the guys is all cluttered with wires and pipes and the edge of the building. It would have been better if only the damaged house in the left background were in the picture but those are not things I could control.

There are three things that make a photo great; light, composition and moment.  If you nail all three of those things in one photo you have a truly great image.  Not so this one.  All I have is a moment but I will take it!  This was such a pleasant surprise from what would otherwise have been a very normal photo situation.  Any time you can walk away with a great moment, take it!  This photo was taken with the Nikon D4 and a 17-35 and I figure it was at the 35mm setting.

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 18th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Twenty Moments Sports 2014 – Soaring

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photographs I feel helped shape my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily   Decatur Heritage Christian Academy's Rebekah Voss is the Female Track Athlete Of The Year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily Decatur Heritage Christian Academy’s Rebekah Voss is the Female Track Athlete Of The Year.

There are times when nothing you try works.  This was one of those times.  I had a beautiful sky to work with.  I had a track athlete whose specialty was the long jump.  So far so good.  I arrived at the school to get an athlete of the year photo and I really, really wanted an action portrait of her flying through the air with all those great clouds as my backdrop.  Then I saw where we were going to have to shoot.

The school is a private Christian high school and they have a new building but some of their athletic facilities are a bit raw.  Unfortunately for me, the jumping pit was one of those areas.  The shot I envisioned was Rebekah Voss jumping straight toward me with that great sky as the background but the run up to the pit was all under a covered pavilion and not a pretty one either.  I tried to shoot it anyway but, turns out, she closes her eyes while she is in the air.  Scratch that angle.

Moving to the second angle, I tried shooting from the side and having her sailing across the frame.  The only angle without power lines forced me to include the edge of the pavilion roof ruining my perfect sky background.  I tried a few more from this angle.  I finally got one that semi-worked but nothing like what I wanted.  Then another problem arose, or more accurately, fell.

Remember those beautiful clouds I was trying to use as a background?  Yeah, they started dropping rain.  I have a Lumedyne strobe which has a large battery-power pack combo and this is an old unit.  They don’t like water.  I was positively desperate and asked Rebekah to just pose for a portrait.  I am a very stubborn person and I wasn’t about to give up on those clouds so I had her climb up onto the pads used in the pole vault so she would be above me.  I stuck that strobe with an umbrella as high up as the light stand would go and shot looking up.  It was okay.  At least I had a portrait but it was still flat.

I decided to try one more thing so I asked Rebekah to extend her arms like a bird flying.  Fortunately, she was willing to give that a try.  I got this portrait then we got back under the pavilion to get out of the shower that was coming up.  Metal light stands sticking up in the air are just not really good to be around when lighting starts.  I couldn’t get Rebekah flying through the air like I wanted but what I came away with was pretty decent.  It had all the elements I wanted in the picture, the girl, the sky and at least some feeling of flying through the air.

Here is what happens on so many photo assignments where you are going to set up the shot.  You have a great idea but you arrive and find complications.  That wonderful portrait has a horrible background.  The time of day is bad.  The subject doesn’t want to do what you suggest.  Here is where you earn your professional money.  You improvise.  You adapt.  You talk nice to the subject and try to get something that works.  In the end you walk away with a photograph that is probably nothing like what you first envisioned and that is okay as long as you walk away with something that is decent.  There are many things that went wrong on my assignment with Rebekah but the thing that went right was Rebekah herself.  You see, in the end, the photograph is not about me.  The photograph is about her.  She was the athlete of the year and I think I got a photo that she liked and I liked and it made her look good and that was the goal to begin with.

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 18th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Twenty Moments News 2014 – Lost Love

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photos that helped shape my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily    Twelve year old Diva Rigney's horse Sally was injured by the tornado last Monday and had to be put down.  The horse is buried near Highway 72 in front of the Coxey Church of Christ.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily Twelve year old Diva Rigney’s horse Sally was injured by the tornado last Monday and had to be put down. The horse is buried near Highway 72 in front of the Coxey Church of Christ.

Yesterday’s post was about one form of loss suffered in the April tornado.  Today is another.  Twelve year old Diva Rigney lost her horse.  The horse’s name was Sally.  Diva lived on US Highway 72 in the Coxey community west of Athens.  Her horse was pastured near her home.  The area was devastated as the tornado swept across Highway 72 and Diva’s horse became one of the casualties.  Maybe to me the death of a horse is not such a big deal.  After all, two people lost their lives in a trailer park next to Diva’s home.  To Diva, the loss was devastating.

This story is one I discovered during a visit to the Coxey Church of Christ.  The church suffered heavy damage and one of the members asked me if I had seen the horse’s grave out front.  I had not and she began telling me the story.  The only problem was she did not know whose horse it had been.  The animal was found badly injured in the front of the church so a grave was dug there and the horse was buried.  They suggested I try a nearby farm which I did.  The owners didn’t know who owned the horse but a lady out there helping knew the trainer who was teaching a little girl to ride.  She gave me a phone number and I made a call.  A few calls later and I had a meeting lined up with Diva and her mom and dad.

Diva was still learning to ride and she had only ridden Sally one time and the horse threw her that time.  Never the less, Diva had a strong affection for her horse.  It was the first animal she had owned and she cared for it daily and was getting ready to ride her again.  The tornado hit and all that changed.  The animal’s back leg was badly injured and the horse was put down.  The church kindly agreed to allow the animal to be buried on their property.  Diva was mourning.

The meeting I set up was perhaps the worst time of day for a photograph.  One o’clock was the best time for the family and I agreed knowing a photo was going to be tough in that harsh sun with not a cloud in the sky.  Diva had erected a small cross on the grave and I knew I wanted to get the photo of her with that cross.  Whenever you encounter really bad light like this the best option I have discovered is to turn your subject’s back to the sun and use a strobe to fill.  Because of the way the grave was laid out, the writing on the cross and the direction of the sun I could only get her partially out of the harsh light.  I had Diva sit down beside the cross and turn her body so at least her face was shaded.  I then added light to her face using an SB28 fired through a white umbrella at very close range on full power.

No solution is perfect but I didn’t want to mess around too long with Diva at the grave.  She was very emotional and I knew the longer we were there the tougher it would be for her.  I did the photo and I  tried to get a video interview but the wind was so noisy the video was not especially good.  It was usable but that is about all.  Diva cried and her mom comforted her and I felt like a massive intruder.  Later; however, Diva got several offers from people around north Alabama who wanted to give her a horse.  I know she was able to accept at least one of the offers so there was at least a silver lining to her story.

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 17th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Twenty Moments Sports 2014 – Pony Tail

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photos I feel helped shape my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily     Hartselle's Jada Hayes pitches against Moody during the championship game as the late evening sunlight backlights her.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily Hartselle’s Jada Hayes pitches against Moody during the championship game as the late evening sunlight backlights her.

I have a confession to make.  I love shooting girls sports.  I do.  And it is because of the pony tails.  In fact, I think there should be a pony tail requirement somewhere in the rule book.  A flying pony tail is just about the coolest thing in the sporting world!  Of course, I have very short hair and that is because I have very little hair but that is a bit beside the point; however, if I had hair I think I would wear it in a pony tail.  If my mother is reading this, just forget I said that mom!  I just love the way a pony tail flies all over the place and makes even average sports pictures a notch or two cooler.

This photo is yet another from Hartselle High School’s state championship run.  Jada Hayes was the starting pitcher for the Hartselle squad and, unlike boys baseball, girls have no inning limits so I think she pitched every game in the tournament.  The underhand pitching motion doesn’t stress the arm and shoulder the way the overhand motion does.  Jada had a great tournament and, I think, was the MVP.  This photo was shot during the late innings of the state championship game with Valley High.

Obviously, this photo is back lit which is the reason it is elevated to a Twenty Moments status.  I love pony tails and I love shooting into the sun so this photo is a collision of two of my favorite visual worlds.  I was shooting from the third base side photo box, the one I don’t care for much and looking almost directly into the sun.  If memory serves, there were several frames that were blown out by getting the sun in the frame.

This photo ran as the lead photo in our sports package for the paper the next morning.  I was surprised because I thought of this photo in much the same way I thought of the batter’s shadow; a photo that just made me happy.  Plus, they skipped over the wonderful jubilation photo you saw yesterday and ran this one so I guess I was doubly surprised.  That reminds me, don’t ever transmit a photo you don’t want to run because Murphy’s law states that every photo editor must, in every circumstance, run the photo the photographer least wants to run.  Ok, not really but, it is something like that.  Fact is, people don’t see photos the same way.  What I may think is obviously the best photo another person might completely overlook because personalities and likes and tastes are all different.

Back light can be tough.  Don’t try it in any automatic mode.  Your camera will go nuts and give you either a complete silhouette or a complete blowout.  Meter what is important and find a balance between the highlights and shadows you can live with.  I didn’t want a silhouette so I dialed it in to somewhere near the mid tones and worked with the exposure until I was happy.  In fact, some may think differently, but I don’t ever shoot sports on anything but manual.  You don’t want your exposures jumping all over the place.

Like the shadow photo, I did not spend a ton of time getting this picture.  It is a saw sharpening photo and not what I would call a core moment even though our sports people thought differently.  Get this shot but stay tuned in to the game and make sure you are not missing the key play while you are chasing the light.

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 17th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Twenty Moments News 2014 – 50 Years Lost

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photographs I feel helped shape my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily    Marvelene Wright goes through her home of 50 years for the last time before it is torn down Friday morning.  Wright has lived in the home since 1964, raised her children there and her husband died there.  She plans to rebuild immediately on the same site.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily Marvelene Wright goes through her home of 50 years for the last time before it is torn down Friday morning. Wright has lived in the home since 1964, raised her children there and her husband died there. She plans to rebuild immediately on the same site.

For those of you who don’t live in tornado country it may be hard to appreciate how quickly your life can be changed, ruined or ended when a tornado strikes.  The storms are furious and fast and the moments of terror you spend in the path of one of these monsters stays with the survivors for the rest of your life.  April is a particularly bad month in north Alabama for tornadoes and we had nearly finished the month when an EF3 tornado dropped down over the Tennessee River and entered Limestone County in the southwest corner of the county.  The storm stayed on the ground from the county line to Athens and left a trail of such random destruction it looked like a drunk in a bar fight had struck the area.

I was not actually looking for Marvelene Wright when I found her.  I was chasing down a tip about a treasured ring that had been lost in the storm and was miraculously found when I stopped at Marvelene’s house because there were people outside and I thought they might know the person I was looking for.  I didn’t have a name, only a story.  She told me she knew someone who fit the description but would we please come back and tell her story when we were done.  I assured her reporter Leah Cayson and I would be back.  Tuned out the person she sent us to was not the person I had heard about so I came back to Marvelene.

We arrived at the house as Marvelene was clearing out the last of the possessions she could salvage.  She took one last walk through the home she had lived in for 50 years.  This was the home where she raised her children, where her husband died and where countless memories of a lifetime had been made.  She was walking through one last time before the house was torn down.  Leah and I walked through the house that last time with her.  That is such a privilege.  We were able to share that most intimate of moments with her.

I am so amazed that people are willing to open windows into their lives and allow me to see inside, even for a few brief moments.  That makes my job more than amazing.  One more amazing thing to share from this story.  The family owned company tearing down her house and building her new one is owned by the Chris and Terri Preston.  Their home and the neighborhood they had constructed next door to their home in eastern Limestone County were all destroyed by the April 27, 2011 tornado and they made it their mission to get out and help as many as they could rebuild after this tornado.  I really love that family.  They are such wonderful people.

Covering tornadoes and their aftermath is such a humbling experience.  I see people in the worst situations opening what is left of their lives and sharing with me and others and I never cease being amazed.  I always wonder if that is how I would behave after losing everything I own?

 

 

 

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 16th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Twenty Moments Sports 2014 – Leaping Tigers

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photos I feel helped shape my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily     Hartselle players celebrate their 5A State Championship after defeating Moody on a two run, walk off home run by Hartselle's Hannah Jenkins.  Sarah Ellen Battles and Madeline Sittason leap and shout for joy as Jenkins circles the bases.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily Hartselle players celebrate their 5A State Championship after defeating Moody on a two run, walk off home run by Hartselle’s Hannah Jenkins. Sarah Ellen Battles and Madeline Sittason leap and shout for joy as Jenkins circles the bases.

Yesterday you saw a flying tiger, today a pair of leaping tigers.  Here is the situation.  Hartselle is batting in the bottom of the last inning of the state championship game playing against Moody High.  The Moody center fielder has just made one of those amazing diving catches and it makes you think Moody is destined to win.  There are two outs and Hartselle has one runner on base and trail by one run.  Hannah Jenkins is at at the plate and Moody’s pitcher has been dominant.  Then the impossible happens.

Talk about moments you dream about!  Jenkins swings and you can tell just by her reaction she has hit it well.  I turn toward the outfielder and watch as the outfielder crashes through the fence but can’t make the catch.  HOME RUN!  WALK OFF HOME RUN to win the state championship, with two outs, in the bottom of the last inning!  I turned back to the dugout to get the Hartselle reaction and I immediately see Sarah Ellen Battles and Madeline Sittason going nuts.  This may be the moment of the purest joy I have ever photographed.

Do you remember from yesterday’s post how I said the shooting position on the field has poor sight lines?  I was in that shooting position.  You have to be at the end of the game because you have to have immediate access to the field.  Post game reactions are usually over quickly and you don’t have time to fight through a crowd at the gate to get there and shoot.  The shooting position almost ruined this photo!  In the upper right corner of the frame you see the coach’s arm.  The entire scene at home plate as Jenkins gets mobbed is blocked by the coach.  The sight line from our shooting position on both sidelines runs right through the coaches boxes and there is nowhere on the field where we have a clean line of sight to home plate.  That is frustrating and almost caused me to miss the shot.

I was shooting with a D4 at ISO 5000.  Shutter speed was 1/1250 at f2.8 on a 3oo f2.8 lens.  This photo has all kinds of flaws. I cut off one of the girls feet.  The crop is a bit awkward.  The image is a bit underexposed.  The sky has gone to dusk but there is still a bunch of light in the sky causing some funky light conditions.  Having said all that, none of it really matters.  What matters is those faces and Madeline Sittason’s big leap in the foreground.  I will take this photo every single day, flaws and all.

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 16th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Twenty Moments News 2014 – Top Hat

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photos I feel helped shape my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily     Governor Robert Bentley visits Walter Jackson Elementary School in Decatur Monday.  The governor dons a ring master's hat as he is included in a dress rehearsal by the kindergarten class.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily Governor Robert Bentley visits Walter Jackson Elementary School in Decatur Monday. The governor dons a ring master’s hat as he is included in a dress rehearsal by the kindergarten class.

I can’t tell you how many boring photos I have of governors visiting one place or another in north Alabama.  God bless Jamie Martin.  She is Governor Robert Bentley’s official photographer and I can’t imagine going around all the time and doing those photos.  Most of the time when a governor visits us it is in some kind of ribbon cutting or new business announcement or something like that.  Once in a while he comes to tour a tornado damaged area but even then it is a walk around kind of thing.  When Governor Bentley came to present a proclamation to an elementary school teacher in Decatur I was not thrilled to get the assignment because I have been there and done that and thought I knew what to expect.

When the governor walked in the front door something totally unexpected happened.  The kindergarten classes were doing a play and they invited the governor to come and be their ring master.  He put on this top hat and I was practically dancing inside.  Something cool was happening!  That never happens during these official visits.  The kids had him for maybe ten minutes, a lot longer than I would have expected him to give them, and he was very kind and asked the kids questions and really engaged them.  I don’t know what kind of politician the governor is but he earned my vote that day because I could see what kind of man he is.

I made so many cool photos during that brief visit with the kindergarteners I had trouble picking just one.  I finally narrowed it down to three and any of the three could have been with this post but this one has slowly emerged as a slight favorite so you see this one.  I love the kids all looking at the governor as he puts on the top hat.  Their faces are wonderful.

There is nothing magical about anything I did shooting this photo.  The governor’s security detail didn’t mind me being where I needed to be to get the pictures and the only challenge was not getting in Jamie’s way so she could also get the photos.  I am guessing it was a treat for her as well to have something to shoot other than a presentation.  The photo was shot with a Nikon D4 and a 17-35mm f2.8 lens likely at or near the 17mm setting.

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 15th, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Twenty Moments Sports 2014 – Flying Tiger

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photographs that helped shape my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily      Hartselle's Sarah Ellen Battles steals a home run as she leaps over the fence to make a catch against Valley during the opening round of the state softball tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery Thursday morning.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily Hartselle’s Sarah Ellen Battles steals a home run as she leaps over the fence to make a catch against Valley during the opening round of the state softball tournament at Lagoon Park in Montgomery Thursday morning.

I suppose if a kid dreams of making a big catch in a big game then that kid would dream of making the catch Sarah Ellen Battles made during the State Championship Tournament in Montgomery this spring.  Hartselle was playing Valley in one of the games leading up to their eventual state championship and Battles was playing in left field.  I was in the process of tracking two or three teams on various fields and I had just walked over to Hartselle’s game after covering one of the other teams.

I decided to climb the bleachers and get a top row vantage point.  The official shooting positions on the field are poorly placed and make it difficult to shoot anything plus, I just like doing different stuff.  Shooting from the same position all the time gets boring and especially so during long tournaments.  I climbed the bleachers and had not even been up there for a full inning when Battles made her big play.

A batter from Valley High School launched this long drive to left and Battles went back for it.  She leaped into the air and caught the ball with her waist in contact with the temporary fence.  Both she and the fence toppled over but she maintained control of the ball for the out.  Hey, that is the stuff those childhood dreams are made of!

Now the cool thing for me is not just making the picture.  That is awesome to have such a nice shot.  The cool thing is my picture will be a part of her life for years to come.  Who knows, maybe she will even show it to her kids someday.  Bottom line, I was there and caught a big moment in a young ladies life and, as it happens, I also live in Hartselle so this is my team, in a manner of speaking.  We do love our ball in Hartselle.

So the question for those of you who are maybe just getting into photojournalism is, “how do you know where to be to get THE shot?”  Well, let me tell you, it is a highly scientific process of measuring the atmospheric pressure, wind speed, temperature, direction of the sunlight and, oh, who am I kidding?  You listen to your gut.  I call that a form of prayer because the Bible says the steps of the righteous are ordered by the Lord and since He lives inside me I reckon He can talk through my gut as well as through my ears.

There is also a few other factors that play into positioning.  I do listen to my gut.  I do pray.  I also pay attention to the games and see how the pitcher is pitching.  Do the batters tend to pull the ball to one side of the field?  Are there a ton of strikeouts?  Am I comfortable in my shooting position?  Can I see the place where I feel something might take place?  And, of course, am I bored with having shot this the same way a thousand times?  Bottom line is you have to trust yourself and you have to be willing to take chances like climbing bleachers and shooting from unconventional spots.  Baseball and softball are great games to try unconventional approaches on because the pacing is slower than say, basketball or football.  Nail a shot you know your sports editor can use then have some fun.

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 15th, 2014 at 8:00 am

Twenty Moments Sports 2014 – Shooting Shadows

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Twenty Moments is an annual feature on the blog where I take you behind some of the photos I feel helped define my year.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily      A batter casts a shadow over home plate as he swings at a pitch during Athens Bible's opening game loss to St. Luke's in the State Baseball Finals at Patterson Field in Montgomery Thursday.

Gary Cosby Jr./Decatur Daily A batter casts a shadow over home plate as he swings at a pitch during Athens Bible’s opening game loss to St. Luke’s in the State Baseball Finals at Patterson Field in Montgomery Thursday.

I love shadows and I shoot shadows as often as possible.  Shadows are fun.  Photographers are always talking about light but shadows actually help define what the light is illuminating.  Interesting concept isn’t it.  Obviously, this photo did not find a place on our sports page.  I shot this picture while covering the State Baseball Finals in Montgomery.  The image did find its way into my photo gallery from the game and that makes me happy.

Baseball is a wonderful game and I have always loved playing baseball, watching baseball and shooting baseball games.  Whenever I shoot anything I am always looking for things that are off beat, different or interesting.  It is not that I think those photos are always going to run.  Quite the contrary.  I shoot pictures like that to help keep me sharp and tuned in and once in a while one does actually run.  The point of doing a picture like this is not to get it published but to improve the way I see.

I went to The University of North Alabama in Florence and got my undergraduate degree in commercial photography with a minor in journalism.  I never actually wanted to be a commercial photographer but they didn’t offer photojournalism.  Michael K. “Nick” Nichols, yeah, that guy, went to UNA as well.  By the time I was a student there he was already a campus legend having shot stories for GEO and he was soon to become a regular contributor to National Geographic.  The story around campus was he always carried a small stuffed animal in his camera bag and he would set it up just about anywhere and work on his composition.  I have no idea if it is true but it is a cool story.

I don’t carry around stuffed animals in my pack unless one of the kids jammed one in there without me knowing.  Never the less, I use that same idea when I look for pictures like this shadow shot.  One of Stephen Covey’s principles is “sharpen the saw.”  This kind of picture keeps me sharp.  I learned many years ago that, to stay successful in this business and not go completely crazy, I have to shoot to make myself happy.  Usually if I am happy other people will also be happy.  Just a hint here, don’t even bother attempting to make an editor happy.  Be happy with your work and stay sharp and your editor will most likely be happy with you as well.  Don’t let other people define your work.  You define your work, and be happy.

By the way, I didn’t spend a ton of time shooting this.  I fired off a couple of sequences and got this nice frame then went back to doing what I was really there to do.  Shoot something cool and then get that nose back to the grindstone!  But at least you will be happy while you grind.

Written by Gary Cosby Jr.

December 14th, 2014 at 8:00 am